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The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (originally The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere) is the longest major poem by the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, written in 1797–98 and published in 1798.
This ballad has been interpreted in a variety of ways since it was created in 1797. Some have understood it as an expression of violation of nature, some understanding it as a religious text some otherwise. Moreover, a question on symbolization of both the Mariner and albatross arose.
The Ancient Mariner was believed to symbolize four characters; the first one simply being he, the old man. Since he is already old and already experienced a lot during his lifetime, he has the role of imparting what he has learned to the young. The second character he plays is a Christian sinner. We can remember that the Ancient Mariner killed an albatross. Since then, he believed that it was the reason of his misfortune and that it was the reason why he became unhappy. There is also the belief that the Mariner symbolizes a poet. Since he was able to see beyond things that a normal person could, he could communicate it to others through his story. And the last, he was believed to symbolize a mother. The reason for this is the repeated connection to conventionally female things like the sea, motherhood, irrationality, spontaneity and nature.
Various interpretations on the ballad were also proposed. Some said that the killing of the albatross by the Ancient Mariner shows the violation of nature and is criticized. Some, such as Gavin McGann, argue that ballad is a story of our salvation of Christ, whereas others dispute this, believing it to be a metaphor for Original Sin in the Garden of Eden. Religion lies at the heart of the poem, focusing on the trials and tribulations of man, depicting a moving spiritual journey of sin, punishment, repentance and eventual redemption. Aside from these, one writer suggested that the literary piece of Coleridge was an autobiography. It was the loneliness of the Mariner was compared to the loneliness expressed by Coleridge in his journals and letters.
Fathoming a literary piece is difficult because each person has his or her own set of biases and look into things differently. However, the writer of the piece usually leaves a trail for the readers to follow. Coleridge was of no difference. He also leaved symbols for us readers to ponder upon on what they mean and he left it to us to share to others our thoughts and what we think of the piece. As mentioned, each person interpret the story differently which makes us open-minded about another side of the story and also impart new wisdom to other readers.